Mark Knopfler returned home to Glasgow for the latest leg of his Tracker tour at the SSE Hydro on Tuesday night. And he gave the 8,000 or so fans in the huge arena over two hours of music from his current album plus favourites from his considerable back catalogue.
Ever since Dire Straits split in 1995, Mark Knopfler has been, to say the least, prolific. He’s released nine solo albums, five soundtrack albums, four collaborative albums and has produced on another five. So I suppose after such a long career it’s no surprise that his latest release – Tracker – is a collection of songs which take on a more reflective tone. None of us are getting any younger after all…
Broken Bones, Corned Beef City and Privateering got things underway in customary laid-back Knopfler style. His growly vocals sounding every bit as good today as they did back in the Dire Straits era. And what can you say about his guitar playing? You’re not 27th on Rolling Stone’s list of the greatest rock guitarists for nothing. His fingerpicking was simply incredible to watch. Australian singer-songwriter Ruth Moody joined the band on stage for Kingdom of Gold and Skydiver. Her soft vocals complimented Knopfler’s gruffness beautifully.
Pretty soon Knopfler strapped on his iconic National Style 0 guitar and we got the first Dire Straits song of the evening, Romeo and Juliet. Now, I have to admit that as much as I enjoyed Knopfler’s newer material, his Dire Straits era songs like Romeo and Juliet are on a different level altogether. Nigel Hitchcock’s fantastic saxophone solos added further levels of class to this timeless classic. Sultans of Swing was next up. Still can’t believe that it was first released thirty seven years ago! Things returned to a laid-back groove with the likes of Mighty Man and Postcards from Paraguay before a magnificently bluesy Marbletown and Speedway at Nazareth picked up the pace again. Last up before the encore was a classic track from Love Over Gold, Telegraph Road. Complete with a five minute Mark Knopfler guitar solo, it was an awesome song with which to round off the main part of the show.
There was more Dire Straits goodness in the three song encore. So Far Away came first before Ruth Moody rejoined the band for Wherever I Go. And so to the last song of the evening… Going Home: Theme from Local Hero. I know the Hydro is a pretty sturdy construction, but Knopfler almost managed to blow it’s roof off with that one!
It’s not often that you get the opportunity to see a proper guitar legend at work, and I’m really glad to have seen one of the very best in Mark Knopfler. The Tracker tour continues throughout the rest of May culminating in 5 shows at the Royal Albert Hall. You really should go see him live. Class.